Manchester United are revamping their squad, but can the lost Leopards switch places?

Manchester United are changing direction, but will United supporters get the transfer guru they’ve been dreaming of for years?

Manchester United reach the end of the 2021/22 season in a state of flux. They have played 22 games in all competitions since the start of this calendar year and they have won just eight of them, with only three of them in the last two months. At the start of the year, the club had three easily identifiable goals for the second half of this season: the FA Cup, the Champions League and qualification for next year’s Champions League. But four months into the new year, and despite a walk-a-thon win over a Brentford side who didn’t seem to want to push them too hard, all optimistic predictions for the end of this season are now in tatters. .

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United were knocked out by Middlesbrough in the FA Cup and Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, while their involvement in the Premier League fourth spot race may still be mathematically possible in theory but would depend on a streak of results so improbable that it is fair. completely ignore their chances as anything other than fanciful.

The potential for a break from the clouds hanging over Old Trafford comes in the form of new manager Erik Ten Hag, who will take over the team this summer, but the carousel of accusations has long left behind him the idea that the fortunes of a football club in the modern era can be changed for the better by the appointment of a single person. The problems at Manchester United run deeper than just the manager, and the appointment of a new one was never very likely to solve the club’s ills.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wasn’t the only member of Manchester United’s management team to step down last year. Ed Woodward had to (ultimately) falling on his sword over his involvement in the European Super League fiasco, despite only quitting his job in early February, and now Matt Judge, who had previously been described as Woodward’s ‘right hand man’ , has resigned as Manchester United’s director of football negotiations. This follows the club’s decision to appoint Richard Arnold as their new chief executive in January and then John Murtough as director of football in February.

Judge, who is currently working through his notice period with the club, will not be missed by club supporters. As the man responsible for negotiating transfers and contracts for Manchester United, Judge became one of the most influential people working behind the scenes at Old Trafford, but after what became seen as a failed transfer after a failed transfer, United fans seem to pretty much agree that just about anyone would be better off.

Woodward and Judge were, after all, the pair who came up with the wheeze of extending player contracts as a way to maintain asset values ​​on trade spreadsheets, which many believe was the main reason why. the United team has become so unbalanced, while critically reaffirming the fundamental differences between running Manchester United for the benefit of the stock market and simply continuing to be, well, a football club.

It has been suggested that the reason for Judge’s departure at this time has to do with Murtough being promoted over his head and cutting his direct contact with Arnold, although it should be added that most of this seems at least happen fairly amicably, which in itself might be seen as somewhat surprising when one remembers the extent of the factionalization of the United dressing room and the constant torrent of leaks that have poured out from behind those doors over the course of of this season.

United supporters certainly seem to know who they want to replace him; Paul Mitchell has been drawing admiring glances for years. Moved from Southampton to Spurs with Mauricio Pochettino in 2014, he left White Hart Lane two years later to work first with RB Leipzig and then with Monaco as sporting director in a position he has held since 2020; Newcastle reportedly considered his services late last year before settling on Dan Ashworth instead, a move not exactly go as Newcastle might have hoped. Mitchell is said to have a close relationship with Ralf Rangnick since his time at Leipzig.

He was constantly linked with a move to Old Trafford when the club didn’t even have a sporting director, and now that Murtough is in the role – with Darren Fletcher as technical director – fans are clamoring to be offered the old job. of judge. . After all, Judge isn’t the only person from this side of the club to step down in recent months; Head scout Jim Lawlor and head of world scouting Marcel Bout also departed.

But it might not be simple. The Mirror reported that “the English [Mitchell] was tempted to stay by the offer of a large budget to spend at Monaco in the upcoming window,” according to a report by Foot Mercato, which claims Chelsea are also interested in his services. There’s also little to suggest Mitchell is unhappy at Monaco, while others might argue that, although his record with Spurs – where he was behind decisions to bring Dele Alli, Son Heung -min and Toby Alderweireld at the club – was excellent, his record at Monaco did not quite leave him above criticism.

And as always with Manchester United, it all raises as many questions as answers. If Murtough and Fletcher are now leading the club’s recruitment, where would Mitchell fit into the equation? If Darren Fletcher is a “technical director”, then what is he doing in the dugout on a Saturday afternoon? What exactly is his role? Because even his own attempts to clarify it didn’t really sound convincing.

But these questions will keep coming. How do Manchester United plan to attract the elite players they believe they are entitled to if they cannot offer Champions League football? What is Ralf Rangnick’s place in all of this, especially since he will now combine his duties as a consultant with that of head coach of the Austrian national team? Can a new structure or head coach change the culture of flight to the press that has been relentless this season from a hopelessly fragmented dressing room? And finally, will Joel Glazer always have the last word on all these changes?

Hurry up. There isn’t that long before the end of the season and the reopening of the transfer window, and few would argue that Manchester United’s squad doesn’t need a major overhaul. Somewhere in that thicket of names there may be a combination that works, but while Matt Judge’s departure was necessary (if anything, it’s surprising he stayed past Woodward’s departure) , it doesn’t add much to the club ahead of what is likely to be an extremely busy summer.

For many Manchester United supporters, the probable truth remains that the club cannot be truly reformed until the Glazer family is gone. But with that looking no more likely now than at any other time in the last 17 years, supporters are hoping against all logic that this time around the Leopards who run their clubs might finally switch places. The post-Ferguson transition is now completing its ninth year without the club’s fortunes having changed significantly, and promises that this time things will definitely be different are probably to be taken with a grain of salt.

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